The Quest for the Summary of Knowledge

We invite you to join us on “The Quest for the Summary of Knowledge” with Amanda Brace and Catherine Ready.

This semester in EC&I 833 – Foundations of Educational Technology: History, Theory and Practice, the impact of our class community has had a major influence on my understanding of the topics covered throughout the course.  Amanda and I have taken many Edtech classes together and are currently working in the same building.  Many conversations have taken place over the last two months exploring ideas for our final summary of learning. I am very grateful for the opportunity to bounce many silly (but awesome!) ideas off Amanda and to deepen my understanding of course concepts and tools.

I would like to highlight a few of the tools Amanda and I used to create our video, as we spent a spent a large portion of the semester learning how to incorporate these tools in our everyday practice.

  • Google Docs – We created a collaborate document to share our brainstorming ideas and outline for the video.
  • Google Drive – To upload the video clips that we recorded on our iPhones (11 and 12).
  • Zoom/Facetime – We met virtually to discuss, plan and edit our video throughout the process.
  • WeVideo – We created a shared project to work on the edits together. I want to note that although WeVideo has released a collaborative project option, it is still a beta version. Some of the tools like cropping videos are not available in the collaborative version yet.
  • Snapchat – Sometimes we sent each other long Snapchat videos explaining a random idea we had for the video or to discuss what we worked on during our own time.
  • Green screen – Although not a specific educational tool, we had a LOT of fun experimenting with green screen and chroma key backgrounds. WeVideo has an exceptional collection of stock videos, photos, audio and chroma key backgrounds to use.

Final scene shots

We want to acknowledge that due to COVID restrictions, we were very mindful of recording safely in person. We wore masks and if scenes included both of us, we recorded the scene separately and then edited the clips together. This is very easy to do when you are using a green screen background.

    • Tip – Instead of just using the green screen as a wall background, let the fabric drape onto the floor to make it look like you are standing in your scene!

I also want to thank my brother for making a guest appearance as our narrator. He recorded the clips as voice notes and then sent them to me via iMessage. Overall, I really enjoyed the collaborative process that we used to create our video.  The COVID restrictions forced us to think outside box and work efficiently on our own and also together through Zoom meetings and Snapchat videos. We are both experienced WeVideo users, but by sharing our screens and editing together, we left the project with new tips and tricks.

Thank you to everyone for a great semester and I look forward to continuing to connect over Twitter in the future!

Until next time,



Work Around Challenges with Assistive Technology

This week we had a very informative presentation on Assistive Technology by Megan, Jenny, Leigh and Kalyn. I enjoyed learning about the different types of technology, the possibilities within classrooms (and beyond), and a great discussion about the best ways to use assistive technology.  Prior to the presentation, I assumed my experience with assistive technology was limited to a few apps and tools.  But I quickly learned that this topic is very broad and there are many applications for using assistive technology with students in both face-to-face and online learning environments.

What is Assistive Technology? describe assistive technology as, “any device, software, or equipment that helps people work around their challenges”. In my classmate Jenny’s recent post, she explains three levels of assistive technology tools:

  • Low tech – very common in classrooms (ex. pencil grips)
  • Mid tech – least common, often battery operated (ex. talking calculators)
  • High tech – tools we “plug in” and the most expensive (ex. projectors)

Assistive technology is a very broad topic and different disabilities require different technology.  The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) explains that “assistive technology helps people who have difficulty speaking, typing, writing, remembering, pointing, seeing, hearing, learning, walking, and many other things.”

My Experience with Assistive Technology

Since the majority of my career has been as a specialist teacher, I did not have the opportunity to work with individual students to learn about their assistive technology needs. Instead, I simply incorporated whatever technology was suggested or required by the classroom and learning resource teachers.  I had some of my own tools in my classroom (like pencil grips, noise cancelling headphones, FM systems, projects), but I never consider the tools as assistive technologies. Instead, they were most often used as classroom management tools, one of the biggest challenges for specialist teachers.

SETT Framework by Joy Zabala

That being said, I often tried to use S.E.T.T. technology that was assigned to specific students whenever students were doing tasks that would require assistive technology.  The most common assistive technology used were Chromebooks assigned to specific students.  Unfortunately I never really understood why specific students had Chromebooks (the realities of teaching 400+ students a week) and I also did not know the best ways to adapt my lessons for students who required assistive technology.  The only time I feel like I was effective using assistive technology was when I taught in a school with 90% EAL learners.  The most commonly used tool was Read&Write as a way to support additional language learners. Some features include:

  • text-to-speech
  • word prediction
  • text and picture dictionaries (very useful)
  • simplify and summarize text
  • ability to collect highlights  for summarizing and research


The most important factor that resulted in successful use of this technology was that we spent many classes explaining to students how to use the tool.  This was useful for both teachers and students, and the information was shared with all teachers that worked with these students.

Using Assistive Technology in an Online Environment

My teaching role has shifted this year and I now teach exclusively online with a large group of EAL students.  When designing lessons and instructions, I have learned that simply providing written instructions are not always helpful for students. Instead, I write simple instructions, make an audio recording of instructions, and also give students the opportunity to either write or record (video or audio) their answers.  My most important development has been creating instructional videos to guide each lesson. explains that:

Teacher-made videos can be a great way to support all students, especially the 1 in 5 students who learn and think differently. When you make your own videos, you can tailor the instruction to the needs of your students. You can also bring a personal connection to the online learning environment.

Furthermore, making videos gives students the opportunities to understand any part of your lessons, go back and watch the instructions again. By trying to incorporate Universal Design for Learning (UDL), the videos give students more ways to access information. UDL guidelines “offer a set of concrete suggestions that can be applied to any discipline or domain to ensure that all learners can access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.” (UDL Guidelines, The three principals to include in a UDL approach:

  1. Engagement and the why of learning
  2. Representation and the what of learning
  3. Action and expression and the how of learning

Many of the challenges in an online environment can be addressed using the UDL principals and guidelines as engaging, representing and expressing learning is very different compared to a face-to-face environment. I am still working on the best ways for students to demonstrate their learning, but I am currently focusing on engaging learning and representing learning goals.

I recently had 3-Way conferences with students and their families, and some of the positive feedback was that students appreciated these videos with their real teachers instead of a random video and random teacher explaining the same concept.  These videos help create connections with students and the asynchronous model means that no student is left behind. I also always upload my videos to YouTube so that students can use close-captions and adjust the playback speed.  I am getting better at recording my videos in fewer takes, so editing time has improved greatly, but I still follow Cult of Pedagogy‘s guide for planning instructional videos.

Here are two examples of videos I have created to help my students with their online learning:

  1. A screencast video to explain how to do a Seesaw activity, and
  2. An instructional video about writing paragraphs (topic sentences)

Assistive Technology levels the playing field for all students and has many positive impacts, like those shared by the presentation group this week. In an online environment, students may feel isolated, so assistive technology can help students feel more independent in their learning, work more accurately and set and achieve goals.  I look forward to incorporating more suggestions from and the entire section devoted to distance learning. In particular, as I start working with Tier II and III intervention students, I will begin to explore online accommodations that could help these students.

Screen capture from Jenny, Leigh, Megan Kalyn’s presentation on November 17, 2020

Exploring Knowledgehook

This week we had an excellent presentation on assessment technologies led by Matt, Trevor and Dalton. Before the presentation, the group asked the class to download Knowledgehook, a program to ‘empower math teachers’ with ‘engaging assessments and activities for students, actionable insights and expert guidance for teachers’.  I recently received a premium account to use with my Grade 3 students in our online classroom, so I am excited to share my experience with Knowledgehook so far. I will discuss:

  1. Setting up Knowledgehook to use with students,
  2. Student response to the program (so far – after one week of use),
  3. How I plan to use Knowledgehook for both formative and summative assessment, and
  4. The initial pros and cons of Knowledgehook after one week of use.

Setting up Knowledgehook

Fortunately, my division sent out very clear instructions with a step-by-step guide and videos to create my Knowledgehook account. One video that was particularly helpful was how to use Knowledgehook in a remote learning environment. The video explained a lot of the lingo used in Knowledgehook like the “Kick-Of Mission”, which is a diagnostic tool to get an overview of student understanding of prior-grade concepts. 

Adding studentsWhen you have created your class (making sure to activate the premium code if you have one from your division), the next step is to add students. I chose to create accounts for my students based on instructions from my division. Next, you can either manually enter student names or copy and paste a list of student names (first names only and one name per line) to create the account. There is an option to “generate passwords”, which I chose so that I could have access to student login information if they forget their passwords (which seems to be a daily occurrence!) One caveat – if you create your class but do not select “generate passwords” and change your mind afterwards, you have to go back to the beginning and delete all students and re-add their names with the password box selected. My colleagues learned this the hard way!

Sharing login informationAfter you have created your class, you can select ‘download login info’ which will create a PDF for each student and separate login cards. Here is an example that I sent to students and their families which shows both the student login and how parents can connect to the app. Finally, as students login to the app, it will also notify the teacher if a parent is linked to the app.

Assign the Kick-Off MissionThe last step (which is prompted by the app) is to assign the Kick-Off Mission to all students. You can choose the date the mission is due and either select the entire class or specific students.

Done! I went through all these steps and then also assigned a few more missions that related to the topics we were currently covering math. I decided to give students a week to figure out how to login and explore the app. I initially thought I would use Knowledgehook for enrichment and extra practice until I learned more about the app during our presentation this week. 

Student response to Knowledgehook (after one week)

In brief conversations with students about Knowledgehook I heard comments like, 

  • “Okay, but what are we supposed to do? Just play the games?”
  • “Is this like Mathletics?”
  • “This is hard! But I like the missions”

This made me realize I have to do a little more learning about the program before I really start using it with students, so I consider this first week our soft launch.  Knowledgehook has lots of prompts that appear when using the website, and one was “potential student gaps are tracked here”.  

Knowledgehook creates reports based on areas of difficulty for each student and then provides teacher resources to support these trouble areas. This is where I think Knowledge really begins to stand out.  For any topic, teachers are provided with background information, common misconceptions that students make and then remediation questions to support growth. If you are teaching an unfamiliar grade level in math, these are excellent resources to support your teaching.


Finally, another feature that I like is that parents can be connected to their student and be notified about milestones reached. Parents and teachers can cheer on the student!


How I plan to use Knowledgehook for assessment

Although I am still in my initial phases of incorporating Knowledgehook with my students, I can imagine using the tool for mostly formative assessment and as another way to check student understanding.  I initially planned to use the app as simply extra practice, but I think the reports and insights will be very valuable to guide my teaching and student learning.  We currently use Seesaw for most of our formative assessment, but I think this program would be a valuable tool to engage our students and track progress. Another feature is printing progress reports that will detail all the skills achieved by each student which can also help guide our assessment.

Teachers can also, “Capture Student Thinking”, so students can upload a photo of their work to individual student portfolios. This allows teachers to get detailed examples of student thinking. 


There are a few ways that I think you could use Knowledgehook for summative assessments. First, you have the option of “assigning missions” (self-paced) or “play gameshow” (live group activity). 

Missions can be assigned in “assessment mode”, so students only get one attempt per question, compared to two attempts in normal missions. You can also assign “Warm-ups” and “Exit tickets” for simple pre and post-assessment data.

The missions are useful for formative assessment and practice, but the Gameshow could be used more like a test or summative assessment in a live classroom environment. The gameshow could also be used during video meetings with students to simulate the classroom environment. The Gameshow option is very similar to other apps like Quizziz and Kahoot

Pros and Cons of Knowledgehook

With my initial experience with Knowledgehook, the teacher resources and assessment capabilities are very positive, especially for an online learning environment. One of our biggest struggles in an online environment is effective assessment that accurately represents student learning and thinking.  I think using a variety of strategies, including apps like Knowledgehook, will give teachers more options to assess standards and outcomes.  

Like many online apps for students, there are some negatives to Knowledgehook.  In my opinion, the game-like platform may not appeal to all students.  In particular, I am finding that my additional language learners are struggling with understanding the instructions.  But, many students at this grade level are very interested in games like Roblox and Minecraft, so the game-like vibe is exciting and interesting.  


I am very excited to start using Knowledgehook with my students as a specific and purposeful assessment tool.  The teacher resources are very comprehensive and helpful, the insights are valuable for planning and support and the parent connection will help keep students and families engaged in their learning.  Overall, I think Knowledgehook is a hidden gem in the math instructional guidance world! I would love to hear how other teachers use this app in their classrooms, both physical and online.

Until next time, 


**All images were taken as screenshots from

The Dilemma of “The Social Dilemma”

(Image: Netflix)

Last month I watched The Social Dilemma  on Netflix in a very relaxed-scrolling-on-my-phone-the-entire-time manner. It was ironic that I was engaging with all the persuasive technology the film was describing without thinking too carefully about the implications of Web 2.0. In preparation for this post, I decided to re-watch the film which a much more critical eye and without the distraction of my phone.  As a result, I heard more information that I maybe did not want to hear or believe to be true the first time. This post will share some of my thoughts on how Web 2.0 has influenced our lives in both positive and negative ways and the implications for our schools and society

Web 2.0 – The Negatives

The Social Dilemma is a film that focuses a lot on the negative influences that social media and persuasive technology has had on users for the last 10-15 years.  Many of the original team members at companies like Facebook and Instagram describe that the way we use social media apps is much different that what was even expected by the developers.  Tristan Harris, a former Google employee and now founder of the Center for Humane Technology, is interviewed extensively throughout the film.  One of his focuses at Google was ethical design and human persuasion.  During his time, he questioned if the designers should be working to make Gmail less addicting and shared a presentation with his colleagues called A Call to Minimize Distraction & Respect Users’ Attention.  Harris highlights the significant responsibility of mostly 25-35 year old white males in Silicon Valley and their impact on how millions of people around the world would spend their time.

Throughout the film, the viewer becomes aware of many negative influences of social media, devices and constant connection.  Everything you do on your phone or social media apps is being tracked, watched and measured, even how long you spend viewing a particular image.  The scary part is this information is then fed into a system with no human supervision and models are continuously built to predict our next actions.  The goals of these companies are to engage the user for the longest period of time, grow the user connection and determine the best advertising based on interactions within the apps.  Each goal is powered by algorithms trying to make as much money as possible. In the video, “The Truth About Algorithms” by Cathy O’Neil, she explains how algorithms are prone to bias and discrimination as a result of the humans who program them.

The Social Dilemma also explores many negative mental health consequences from the addiction to social media, especially among young people. Self-harm hospitalizations and suicides have risen exponentially since the widespread use of social media on mobile devices among young people began in the early 2010s.  This is achieved through “persuasive design techniques like push notifications and the endless scroll of your newsfeed” to create “a feedback loop that keeps us glued to our devices.” (The Social Dilemma: The Dilemma).

Another negative is the realization that when we are using social media apps, we are not using a product. Instead, we, the users, are the product and our data is being sold to advertisers following a business model to keep people engaged on the screen for the longest time possible. Shoshana Zuboff created the term “surveillance capitalism” to describe the new way companies claim private human experience as products.

Implications for schools and society

The design technique of social media apps is to use positive intermittent reinforcement  (similar to how gamblers feel using slot machines in a casino). Each time you refresh your feed, new information is available to entice users to stay engaged longer.  The Social Dilemma compares users to lab rats as developers are constantly doing small experiments to manipulate the environment and keep users coming back. Unfortunately, humans are not evolved to have social approval “dosed to us every 5 minutes” (Tristan Harris, The Social Dilemma).

Generation Z (born 1996 and later) have been described as “digital natives” who began using social media during middle school – a pivotal moment in their intellectual growth and development.  The online connection for these generations has been the only world younger people have experienced.  As previously mentioned, there have been an increase in suicide and self-harm hospitalizations with the introduction of social media.  There are many harms with social media, so it is important to build a healthy relationship with technology. The Center for Humane Technology explains how social media has taken over young people’s relationships and is “constructing their daily reality—homework, weekend plans, flirting, friendship, their sense of self and belonging—all within a system that is designed to capture and monetize our attention.”

A few suggestions from The Center for Humane Technology to balance social media and well-being include deleting toxic apps and asking the questions, “Do I like this app?” and “How does this app make me feel?” before and after using it.  They also suggest delaying the introduction of smart phones and social media in young people’s lives and to create digital-well being guidelines with your family.

Web 2.0 – The Positives

After watching The Social Dilemma, you may feel like throwing your phone out the window or deleting all your social media. But I think it is important to acknowledge that positives exist when social media can be paired with responsible use and an understanding of digital citizenship.

Mark Ribble’s “9 Elements of Digital Citizenship”

There are the obvious benefits of connecting with friends and family from all over the world.  Keeping in touch with loved ones and sharing special moments is very easy with Web 2.0.  Raising money for organizations, individuals ( or through social media activism  has brought people together around the world to support important causes.

Furthermore, Web 2.0 has been a game changer for educational technology and supporting online and distance education.  On a personal note, the connections I have made with educators around the world on Twitter and in Facebook groups have been extremely valuable to my professional development as an online educator.  Since I am constantly engaging with #edtech posts on Twitter, the algorithm is working in my favour and showing me new and useful tools.  Web 2.0 has provided me with a never-ending supply of information related to teaching and learning.  I think it is important to note that through my studies at the University of Regina and Edtech courses, I have gained valuable insights about how to engage with information online and understanding the importance of media literacy.

A Personal Challenge

At the end of the film, the activists interviewed in The Social Dilemma share some of their biggest tips when using social media and being online.  These included turning off all notifications, using extensions and ad blockers online, not accepting recommended videos on YouTube, no phone in the bedroom and delaying your introduction of social media with children.  Since my daughter is still young, I am very curious what the world will be like with social media when she reaches middle school age. My husband and I have no plans to introduce personal technology to our daughter in the near future, but it will be interesting to see if we actually hold out.  It is easy when we are in our own COVID bubble and she does not see any other young people using devices, but I also said I would not let her watch television all day. I have every song from Frozen, Frozen II and Moana memorized if that gives you a glimpse into how we spent our quarantine this spring…

Since tomorrow is November 1st, I always love a good start-of-a-new-month challenge.  For the entire month of November, I am going to turn off all push notifications on my phone AND not use my phone for at least the 30 minutes before bed.  Anyone else with me?

Until next time,





A Day in the Life of Distance Learning

This post was a collaboration between Catherine Ready and Amanda Brace.

With any school experience, tools are needed in order for students to succeed. When it comes to an online learning environment, there are many online tools, apps, and sites that can support and facilitate learning. With the recent events of COVID-19, education has shifted. In the spring, teachers quickly moved to teaching supplemental learning online as an emergency response. Now that a new school year has begun, many schools have changed the way the classroom functions, with some schools even taking their schooling online with hybrid models or with distance education. In Regina Public, eSchool was created to accommodate students “who require an alternative way of learning outside of a school classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic.”  Since both of us have recently started working at eSchool, we wanted to share the online tools and platforms that have been most utilized during this time. 

4 Tools for Online Learning


The LMS that Regina Public eSchool uses is called Moodle. It allows teachers to create content and assess learning in a functional way. It gives students the chance to demonstrate learning and interact with their teachers and peers in both synchronous and asynchronous time. Moodle also provides a safe learning environment with their commitment to “safeguarding data security and user privacy.” There are many tools and features in Moodle that make this LMS stand out among the others. The chart titled “Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers and Educators,” gives information and tips about the tools that can be embedded in the platform. From this user guide, here is a breakdown of our favourite plugins and tools on Moodle. 

Every online learning environment functions in their own unique way, but it’s crucial that they all have a platform for organization and learning, otherwise known as, a Learning Management System. A Learning Management System (LMS) is “a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation and delivery of educational courses.” Every LMS has different features and functions, and there are many different options to choose from, such as Schoology, Canvas, and Blackboard

Label: Insert Text and Multimedia 

We use this tool for organizing our classroom homepage in a variety of ways. It can be used as a header for assignments, links, and activities so that it improves the layout of the page. It also has the ability to embed videos and photos right into the page. Moodle states that “labels are very versatile and can help to improve the appearance of a course if used thoughtfully.”

Assignment: Use to Collect, Assess, and Provide Feedback on Assignments

A lot of teachers at eSchool use the Assignment tool for their day-to-day activities and assignments. It allows students to add files, photos, and videos. In addition to inputting grades, teachers can also give written feedback as well as audio feedback when they use the microphone tool. 

Chat: Hold real-time text chat discussions

This tool is a great way to communicate with students. With its instant messaging abilities, it gives teachers the opportunity to send group messages or communicate with individual students with the private message feature. 


Feedback: Gather data from students on any topic

The feedback tool allows teachers to create custom surveys and quizzes for students so that feedback can be collected. The questions can be presented as multiple choice, yes or no, or with text. At eSchool, the feedback tool has been useful for anonymous surveys and for students to respond to lessons.

Scheduler: Book a time with your teacher

This tool has been a life saver during online learning! Teachers can create multiple time slots so that students can book an appointment. We have been using this feature for booking individual Google Meet times with our students and families. Moodle also sends out automatic reminders so that students are notified about their time. It’s a great way to manage communication and keep everyone organized! 

With just a small preview of the tools and features Moodle provides, it’s evident that this LMS is effective and versatile. Moodle continues to give students, teachers, and families at eSchool an organized learning platform that promotes communication and collaboration. With Moodle as the homebase for our online school, it makes other digital platforms and tools, such as Seesaw, G Suite, and WeVideo, easy to access and utilize. 


WeVideo is a “cloud-based editing platform” that can be used for screen recording and producing video content. This tool is essential for online learning as it allows for teachers to create asynchronous instructional videos. It can also be used by individual students or for group projects since there is a sharing setting that allows for collaboration among multiple editors. 

Many teachers at eSchool use WeVideo for adding a unique and creative element to their virtual classroom. Add multiple video or audio tracks, input sound effects or music, and add creative backgrounds or text. The easy-to-use green screen tool can create any type of background for the video or picture. As you can see in the video below, WeVideo is a platform that can be used to teach lessons and deliver content that is both engaging and informative for students. 

G Suite for Education

Many school divisions use the G Suite for Education as a tool to “collaborate anywhere, communicate your way, manage your classroom simply, organize your tasks and administer confidently”.  


All students in our division have a school email address that is accessed through Gmail. This email address provides students with login information for a variety of integrated apps and allows for quick and easy communication between student and teacher. 

For synchronous meetings, we use Google Meet for individual student meetings and whole group class meetings a few times a week. It is important to note that eSchool is an asynchronous learning design. We use Meets as opportunities to build relationships with our students and clarify any questions or concerns with learning activities, so that learning is accessible for students.

In Google Meets, the screen sharing function is an excellent way to share information with students using Slides. An example is going over examples with students or guided reading with individual students. The chat function can be turned on or off and gives students an opportunity to ask questions and participate in discussions if they do not feel comfortable using their mic to speak.


Through Google Drive, we share folders and files with our teaching teams and students that can be accessed from any mobile device, tablet or computer. You can store any file type in Google Drive and it also integrates seamlessly with Slides, Docs, Sheets, Forms and Jamboard.  

There are a variety of sharing settings that include sharing the file or folder with select users, only users in your organization or to anyone with the link. Furthermore, there is the ability to change the settings to make the users “viewers” or “editors” for more control of your files. Also, if you want to share a file with students but do not want everyone to edit the same file, you can change the settings to force the students to “Make a Copy” that will allow for individual editing. 

Google Drive has been an integral part of the sharing and collaboration process as we are able to work on documents together at the same time. For example, we have a document that outlines our weekly plans and each team member can contribute to it on their own time throughout the week, but we can be assured that every team member has the most recent update. We also enjoy the ability to access Google Drive through the app on our phones. 


Scheduling individual meetings with students is a simple process through Calendar, as you can select a start and end time, add Google Meet conferencing and send invitations to student emails (which they access through Gmail). This is useful when scheduling multiple meetings in advance and saves time as all the details are organized in one place. You can also add reminders and alerts and can be notified when an attendee “accepts” the meeting invitation. The automation of these steps means the teacher can focus more on the meeting and less on the logistical details. 

One of our favourite tools to engage students is through the use of Jamboard, an interactive whiteboard tool. You can use the tool in a synchronous environment, like during a Google Meet, or as an asynchronous tool, like posting a daily question or morning message that students can access on their own time. Similar to a classic classroom whiteboard, students can add or erase, use their finger or stylus pen if using a tablet or phone and collaborate with their classmates at any time. 

A note on privacy

Like all technology tools, it is important to understand the privacy and safety implications of using the tools with students. Most organizations have strict guidelines on the type of information that can be collected and stored on cloud-based storage solutions. From a productivity and organizational standpoint, Google Drive is an excellent tool that integrates very well with other apps, but it’s critical to have an understanding of the security and privacy before using them. 


Seesaw is a “platform for student engagement” and allows teachers to “empower students to create, reflect, share, and collaborate.” (Seesaw) There are many ways that Seesaw Stands Out, but here are some typical uses at eSchool.

  • Activity Library
    • Teachers can create their own activity, assign an existing activity from a large Seesaw community library, or copy and edit an existing activity to suit their needs.
    • Teachers can include templates, voice instructions, links and examples for students to complete the activities.
  • Schedule Activities
    • Teachers schedule activities in advance and can also select if they want to assign to the entire class or particular students.
  • Post Approval and Commenting
    • There is a setting which requires posts to be approved before they are posted to a student journal.
    • Teachers can provide comments (written or voice), “like” a post or go in a directly edit on a post before approving.
  • Folders
    • Teachers and students can sort activities into folders, like “Math, ELA, Science” for easy organization and later access.
  • Announcements
    • Teachers can send announcements to students and/or their family members that are connected using the Seesaw Family app.
  • Pin to Top
    • This tool allows teachers to pin a post to the top of a student journal for easy access. Some examples include a daily message, weekly plan or Google Meet information.

Seesaw is an amazing tool to engage with students and families and build relationships.  It is very easy for students to record themselves reading or explaining an answer to a question which makes for a more personal online learning experience.  The Seesaw Family App allows family members to be connected to their student’s journal and is an easy way to communicate questions about activities.  Seesaw will also translate notes, comments, captions, announcements and messages to over 55 different languages.  The family engagement keeps students motivated to learn in a distance learning environment. 

From a teacher perspective, there is a very welcoming Seesaw community of educators through Facebook Groups, Instagram, Twitter and training programs. This includes the Seesaw Pioneer  program followed with the Seesaw Ambassador program to help connect like-minded educators around the world that are using Seesaw. For example, this October 2020 challenge is to “Treat Yourself to 5 New Ideas” and share how you are using the ideas with the educator community.  

Honourable Mentions 

There are many other tools and platforms that are used during a “Day in the Life” of an eSchool teacher, but these four tools are some that we could not live without. Some of the “honourable mentions” that could have made the list are:

If you find yourself venturing into the world of online learning like we did, we hope this list of tools gave you some insight and inspiration. We also want to leave you with some tips for success in an online learning environment.

  1. Have a growth mindset and be open minded
  2. Communication is key 
  3. Have flexibility and grace for yourself and others
  4. Keep it simple

And remember… have fun! 

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready and @amandajebrace

Sleepless Nights: Too Many Open Tabs


Black Macbook circa 2007

In 2007, my parents gifted me with a shiny black Macbook (that still works today!) before beginning my undergraduate studies.  At this time, Facebook was becoming very popular, especially for those who entering university. Needless to say, my first month of university was a series of friend requests and “creeping” profiles of new acquaintances.  In lectures, rows of students would sit with their laptops making notes but also scrolling through Facebook.  Evening study sessions involved Facebook breaks, aimlessly scrolling and making status updates. Remember when Facebook used “is” before every status?

  • “Catherine is going to eat.”
  • “Catherine is ready for bed.”
  • “Catherine is excited to go shopping!!!!”

It got to the point that I was so distracted by Facebook that I found it impossible to stay focused when writing a paper or studying for an exam. My friend suggested an app called SelfControl to block certain websites, like Facebook. I would set the blocker for about one hour so I could focus on my tasks, which definitely increased productivity. I even tried a few different Pomodoro apps to structure my work periods. Below is an example from Pomodoro Timer for Mac:

  1. Have a single task you would like to achieve.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes, working on NOTHING ELSE but the task.
  3. When the timer rings, reset the timer for 5 minutes and take a break. DO NOT do any more work or think about work.
  4. Repeat Steps #2-3 three more times. At the end of the fourth 25-minute working session, take a longer break.
  5. Repeat Steps #2-4 as many times as you like! 😉

Over the last decade, my use of a smartphone has sharply increased, especially with the use of cellular data and WiFi.  The ability to search for the answer to any question, communicate with family and friends and scroll through social media has meant that my phone is never out of reach.  I now rarely look at social media websites on my laptop, but instead will be doing work on my computer and use my phone for enjoyment. According to a study by Flordia State University, short notification alerts “can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind-wandering, which has been shown to damage task performance.” Even though my phone is usually on silent, the notification banners and lit up screen immediately pull me from any task.  I am distracted by my phone at all points in the day, from getting ready in the morning, at work, during meals and especially before bed.  I rarely watch a television show without looking at my phone, so as a result I usually have no idea what is going on in the show. And don’t get me started on trying to have a conversation with someone who is glancing at their phone.

What Can I Do About It?

Using phones and thinking that we can respond to messages or scroll social media and still have a conversation is something my husband and I discuss all the time.  In fact, we have even set boundaries in our home as we are trying to demonstrate a healthy relationship with technology for our daughter. For example, we have a strict no phone rule during meals, when watching a show together, immediately after work and when doing things together as a family, like going for a walk. Sounds simple enough, but it is something we continually bring up and talk about.  We agree that quality family time is important and that always being attached to our phone and the Internet is massive distraction.

My actual limits. Instagram is my social media app of choice.

One of the recent tools I have started using is Screen Time app limits on my iPhone. I started this during the summer when there were daily updates on social media about the back to school plans. The 24-hour news cycle was toxic and taking a toll on my mental health. I even tried a week of no social media, except for a few minutes everyday. It was shocking how often I absentmindedly grabbed my phone to scroll social media.  When I instituted the app limits, I found I often hit my limit. I usually extend the limit, but it at least makes me aware of how much time I am spending on the app. This is especially useful before bed (I can’t get away from looking at my phone before bed!) because it forces me to just put the phone down and close my eyes.

Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?  

As a teacher in a classroom, I have found that the Internet is a wonderful productivity tool for collaborating, communicating and creating engaging lessons.  I have never really been bogged down by e-mails in my personal or professional life and found that my day-to-day interactions with students are not distracted by the Internet. But that changed during Spring 2020 remote learning and now in my new eSchool position. The first few weeks as an eSchool teacher was a constant stream of e-mails, planning, explaining technology and setting up technology.  I would start working on a task and the Outlook notification for an e-mail would pop up and I would pull away and look at it, pulling focus from my task. Then the e-mail would lead to looking up the answer to a question, or downloading student login information to use an app like Seesaw or Raz-Kids. Then replying to the original e-mail, then remembering I had to reply to another e-mail…

One evening during my first week as an eSchool teacher, I was attending an online seminar as part of my Skate Canada Official continuing education. The meeting was not mandatory, but was useful information and a refresher for new judging guidelines this season.  Since it was a lot of old information, I decided to “multi-task” by opening up about ten Chrome tabs that included planning for eSchool, reading about best practices for creating an instructional video then answering messages on my phone, sending Snapchats to my sister and adding to the conversation during the skating Zoom meeting every once and a while. Then it started. I asked my husband if he felt ill from the pizza we ordered for the dinner that night. Was I getting sick? The meeting was over and it was late, so I tried to go to bed, but my head was spinning, like I had a million Chrome tabs open. I finally fell asleep around 2:30 a.m., only to have my daughter crying out at 3:37 a.m. She decided she was ready to start her day (she is usually an early riser, but more like 5:00 a.m.!). How would I manage the day on one hour of sleep? By slowly down and enjoying a nice cup of coffee.

Now What?

I obviously needed to make changes to how I was managing my time to avoid another evening of disrupted sleep.  It has taken a few weeks, but I think I have finally found a good routine. At work, this involves checking e-mail first thing, then closing the e-mail and checking it at the start of every hour. Then I dedicate a solid hour to planning and preparing lessons, but nothing else. Before lunch, I check my Seesaw notifications and try to not get triggered by the growing number of unapproved posts. I focus only on the task at hand and try to spend 30-60 minutes approving posts. Another problem we run into is constant workplace disruptions by asking questions to our colleagues. These questions are always valid and helpful, but the timing pulls us away from our task and the re-focus period is very long afterwards. To combat this, we have started using the Cisco Jabber communication app for messaging between colleagues. Here is a snippet of a conversation with classmate and co-worker Amanda:


Learning to prioritize tasks will continue to be a work-in-progress this year as we adapt to distance and online learning. Productivity tools are only helpful if the user has a plan to incorporate the tools in their daily routines. And we need to start focusing on the idea that  “Single-tasking Is the New Multitasking”. I will always use a good old-fashioned pen and paper to-do list, but incorporating some of the ideas I outlined in this post will hopefully avoid sleepless nights in the future!

Until next time,



Audio-Visual Technology: Changing How We Think About School

“…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.” – Neil Postman (1985)


When considering the above quote, I think it is useful to compare “Sesame Street” to any educational program offered on cable television or through streaming websites like Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video or YouTube. The idea behind these programs is that they will be so engaging and incorporate different learning skills, therefore children will be excited and retain the information.  It also plays into the idea of parent guilt around screen time, thinking that if a child is going to watch television, it should at least be an educational show.  This makes sense, as audio-visual technology “creates a stimulating and interactive environment which is more conducive to learning” .  But what happens when classrooms cannot replicate the atmosphere created by a Sesame Street episode?

Audio-visual technology and education

This week during our EC&I 833 class, our presenters: Lisa, Tammy, Tarina and Caleigh shared an excellent timeline and history of audio-visual technologies and the integration and impact in education.  Our classmate, Dean, created a graphic to highlight some key points from the presentation:

Thanks Dean!

I found the connections to learning theories particularly useful, as it reinforced the topics covered in the first few weeks of this course. As the digital age has evolved over the last few decades, the links to learning theories have shifted from behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism and eventually connectivism. Nicaloou, Matsiola and Kalliris (2019, p.8) explored the traditional teaching methods that use audio-visual technologies to enhance learning as follows:

  1. Inductive Method – start with basic elements and gradually proceed to more complex forms;
  2. Production Method – opposite of inductive method as it starts from the general picture and proceeds to the partial picture;
  3. Interpretive Method – combines inductive and productive methods to cultivate understanding and mobilize cognitive forces of human nature;
  4. Constructivist Method – based on knowledge as a result of past experience, personal sustainability, creation and social, cultural and linguistic context.

Furthermore, “The societies of the 21st century are highly exposed to visual stimuli on a daily basis, and many activities are performed through visual procedures. Therefore, there is an augmented necessity for education to keep pace with society and maintain a positive outlook to every emerging innovation.” Nicaloou, Matsiola and Kalliris (2019, p.8)

With this context we can look at the implications of the wide variety of audiovisual technologies that are currently available and how it affects the format of traditional schooling.

“Traditional” Schooling in 2020

A year ago, many classrooms incorporated the basic audiovisual tools that were discussed in the presentation. This included items like a whiteboard, projector, document camera, speakers, computers, iPads and some apps like YouTube. Fast-forward to Spring 2020, and schooling shifted to a remote learning environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This led to an almost immediate adoption of some of the 4th generation tools like video conferencing (Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams), screen capture recorders, video editing software and digital portfolios like Seesaw.

Many teachers experienced first-hand the challenges from not exposing their students to different forms of technology when they were forced to move teaching and learning online.  My classmate Shelby explained how we need to move away from the substitution and augmentation side of the SAMR model and push ourselves to modifying and redefining our learning environments.  Fortunately (but also unfortunately because of the immediate nature), teachers were forced to adapt their practices to change the way they delivered curriculum using audiovisual technology in an effective and meaningful way.

Changing how we think about school

My personal experience has shifted as I recently took on a new role as an online teacher with Regina Public Schools eSchool. The biggest lesson I took away from the Spring 2020 remote emergency learning period was that we need to keep. it. simple. The common concerns from families were always that there were too many logins, passwords and platforms to remember. For me, this led to the adoption of one “new” platform and the use of apps that the students had already used in the classroom before the pandemic hit.  Now in the my current online teacher role, we are aware of the same concerns of keeping the delivery straightforward but also engaging.  For my grade 3 students, I have found great success with the use of Seesaw as not only a communication tool, but as a way to deliver lessons and offer continual feedback.  As many Seesaw users know, the possibilities are endless with recording options, uploading videos, adding photos, editing work and more.  My previous use of Seesaw was strictly as a communication tool and I am so excited about the possibilities to create an engaging learning environment.  The best part is that students are often showing me new tricks they learned using the app, which demonstrates the idea that “interacting with AV technology on a daily basis also makes [students] proficient in using technology”. (The importance of audio visual technology in education)

Bringing it back

At the beginning of the post, I presented a quote from Neil Postman that highlighted the issue with shows like “Sesame Street” and their impact on traditional schooling.  He believed that children would get used to the exciting and engaging dynamics of television and then expect the same at school.  But I don’t think we are giving children the credit they deserve.  Although Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” was written in 1985, it assumes that children are not able to adapt to different teaching and learning environments.  I think our remote learning period of 2020 demonstrated the resilience of students and their ability to learn curriculum in many different formats. I’m not saying it was or is perfect, but I think how teachers integrate audio-visual tools is constantly changing which is reflective of the rate that technology changes.

Unfortunately these frequent changes sometimes mean students are left behind with the growing digital divide, as Amanda Brace discusses in a blog post earlier this year. As much as I want to keep moving forward using the latest audio-visual technologies with my students, I am very aware of my privilege of having access to these tools.  I am even more aware that the access students have at school can be very different than what is available at home, which is a major consideration when planning learning for an online environment.

The future of audio-visual technologies

As we look towards the future, it is highly likely that online learning in a K-12 environment will continue to be offered in many places around the world, including Saskatchewan.  When deciding what tools to use with students, we should consider how the use will enhance the learning environment, but more importantly build a sense of community. “Online teaching required specialized knowledge, an understanding of the strategies that would allow teachers to adapt technology to suit their pedagogical needs—not the other way around.” (Edutopia) One of the biggest needs is developing relationships with students so we can create meaningful learning experiences.

What are some ways you are using audio-visual technology to create a sense of community in your classroom?

Until next time,






Constructionism, Coding and Me

I have been taking Edtech courses with Dr. Couros since 2018, and every week I learn something new.  The act of trying new tools instead of just reading about them has helped me grow into a more curious learner and teacher.  The best part is incorporating these news tools with my students.

I had fun this week experimenting with the Logo emulator and workbook after a brief introduction during our class to the “turtle”.  I enjoyed the repetitive nature of the workbook exercises and started to understand how I was using a variety of problem solving skills to complete each exercise. With each task, my first priority was figuring out the repetitive pattern and then understanding how to orientate the turtle.



Math was always one of my favourite subjects in school and I think I enjoyed these exercises in the Logo workbook because of the similarities. Using the same process for many exercises and only changing the variables to create different end products.  I stopped after the staircase exercise feeling quite proud of what I learned to do in a fairly short time. Silicon Valley, here I come!

I have never played with or experimented with coding before this week. To be perfect honest, although I felt like it was important to include in schools, I did not really understand why.  And I think this is because I did not have an real experience playing with code and how it works. This relates to Seymour Papert’s Constructionism Learning Theory and the idea that learner’s make mental models to understand the world around them.  To understand the Logo exercises, I was trying to visualize before writing out the code and considering what the end product would be before hitting “run”.  Makerspace for Education explains that “students learn best by making tangible objects through authentic, real life learning opportunities that allow for a guided, collaborative process which incorporates peer feedback.” This short video gives a great explanation of constructionism and how it is about “putting the learner in the centre and having them experience the concept in an authentic way and construct their understanding of it” (1:03).

To  understand the value of learning something like Logo with school-aged children, I sought out the help from an expert (and friend!). Kathleen Fellinger is the publisher and co-founder of a local Regina website, KinderBuzz and is a Web Designer & Consultant with over 18 years experience.  I was curious about her recommendations of tools for a variety of different ages to learn more about coding and why it is important to provide these types of learning experiences in schools.  Kathleen explained that there are a variety of organizations and sites that offer coding lessons and support for kids and their families at almost every grade level.  The most important part is figuring out what the child is interested in, like building a website, designing a mod for Minecraft, Roblox, video or game design or even app design.

Here are Kathleen’s top picks to help grow student interest in coding:

  • CODE.ORG – An excellent resource for kids or adults with great coding classes.
  • CODE MONKEY  – Game-based environment to learn code (Paid subscription).
  • SCRATCH – Free resource.  Kathleen suggests starting here to test it out and see if your child is interested before you move onto a paid service.
  • RaspberryPi – A great program for younger children and those that want to learn about coding robots or AI.
  • DAISY THE DINOSAUR  – A fun app to learn the basics of coding for ages 4+, but it is helpful if the child can read.
  • GRASSHOPPER APP – A free service and a great place to start if you are interested in learning Javascript.
  • – Online coding courses that you can try for free before subscribing.
  • TYKER – Coding games and courses for kids based on interests, but you eventually have to subscribe to the service.
  • KHAN ACADEMY – A free resource where you can learn many different coding languages.

A very important point that Kathleen raised was that these programs and opportunities are wonderful if students have access to the technology to learn these tools.  Since many of these experiences take place with students outside of school, we are relying on families to provide the technology and support to let students explore the world of coding.  THIS is why it is so important to provide learning opportunities like the Makerspace movement and STEM/STEAM environments in schools.  There are many resources that help families “teach your kids to code”, but there are also initiatives that schools can explore, like the Minecraft: Education Edition. At the end of the day, teachers have an important job guiding our students through 21st century learning opportunities.

Until next time,


2020: A major shift in my teaching philosophy

Over my last few M.Ed. courses at the University of Regina, we have explored different theories of knowledge and learning.  My first introduction was in the summer through EDL 811: Supervision in Education.  One section of the course explored different theories of knowledge and their place in the supervisory process in schools.  At first, I found the connections overwhelming and almost too much to take in.  Theories, knowledge, philosophies – your head starts to spin trying to understand the meaning in relation to your own experiences in education.  This fall semester I am also taking EC&I 804: Curriculum Development, and our first major assignment was reading and responding to questions about theories of knowledge and learning with a focus on curriculum. Again, still a lot of ideas to process! And now here we are in EC&I 833 exploring theories of knowledge and learning in regards to our teaching philosophy and classroom practice. Luckily I stumbled across a tweet from classmate Dean to summarize learning theories:

My classmate Amanda also provided an excellent summary of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism and connectivism She shared Paul Stevens-Fulbrook’s “15 Learning Theories in Education” which provided an easy-to-follow explanation of learning theories. Is it possible that this is all finally coming together and starting to make sense?

What is theory of knowledge? What are learning theories?

First, I think it is important to understand what is meant by the term “theory of knowledge”.  During our class this week, Dr. Couros discussed the concept of knowledge and when it is the case that you know something.  This includes knowing what is true, believing in it and having the justification (facts or evidence) for believing whatever is true.

Teorías del aprendizaje / Learning theories“Learning theories” by Mikel Agirregabiria Agirre is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Ertmer and Newby compare three of the theories (Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism) from an instructional design perspective. This article guided me in my understanding of how theories are represented in a classroom setting.

  • Behaviorism: This theory suggests that the role of teachers is to create an environment that will result is specific and desired responses. Students are usually rewarded when they make the “correct” response.
  • Cognitivism: Similar to behaviorism, the environment is very important in learning. “Instructional explanations, demonstrations, illustrative examples and matched non-examples are all considered to be instrumental in guiding student learning.”
  • Constructivism: This theory “equates learning with creating meaning from experience.”  The learner takes information and elaborates and interprets the new information.

George Siemans explains that behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are the three broad learning theories, but were developed before the digital age.  Connectivism helps bridge the gap in these theories and recognizes that learning is no longer an individual activity and focuses on the skills required to help learners succeed in the digital era.

Which theory of knowledge for me aligns with my teaching philosophy? 

When I consider the four learning theories I have discussed so far, I find many connections to my teaching philosophy as it has evolved over the course of my teaching career. For all of my career, I have been a specialist teacher in elementary schools, often working with primary students in their classrooms (usually in schools without an additional Arts Education room). One of my biggest challenges is classroom management, especially if I only work with a class once a week. For years, I have used the same “trick” to maintain a calm and controlled learning environment. I enter the room, write the word MUSIC on the board and the goal is to keep all of our “letters”.  If students are not following instructions, I erase a letter, but there is always the opportunity to earn the letter back.  If we get to the end of the class with all of our “letters”, I add a sticker to a chart. Ten stickers means we get to do something fun, like play a game! It is amazing how well primary students buy-in to this method of classroom management.

Reward chart“Reward chart” by mattedgar is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As I read about learning theories, I realize that my classroom management tool follows the classic action-reward method of the behaviorism theory.  I really try to focus on earning and losing letters as a team effort (example – I do not erase a letter because one student is acting out).  Sometimes even just walking up to the board and raising the whiteboard eraser is enough to get all the students back on track.  Is this an appropriate tool to use in schools today? I know from experience that it does not work beyond about Grade 2, so maybe there is a place for behaviorism among certain subjects or grade levels.

Cognitivism has also been part of my teaching career, especially when I build on knowledge acquired during Arts Education lessons.  I have really noticed the influence cognitivism has had in my teaching as I stay in one school for many years.  At one of my schools, the work I planned for Grade 4 students was only successful because I had taught these students since Kindergarten. Every year we build on prior knowledge and go beyond surface level learning.

I also find Constructivism to be a major part of the Arts Education curriculum as students are able to gain knowledge through experiential learning and think about the roles of the arts in their world. One of my favourite experiences as a teacher was guiding students through an Activist Art gallery and exploring social media activism.

Students collaborated to create an art exhibit that aligned with the social constructivism learning theory. In some ways, it feels as though my teaching career has incorporated different learning theories based on the grade level. Behaviorism is closely linked with Kindergarten to Grade 2 students (because they really buy-in to the action-reward method).  Cognitivism relates closely to Grades 3-6 students, as they are beginning to develop the metacognition to taking their learning to a deeper level. Constructivism aligns more closely with Grades 7-8 students because they are willing to challenge and explore new ideas.

A shift in my beliefs 

Last week I left my position as an elementary Arts Education teacher to join the team at Regina Public Schools eSchool. While I understood how learning has shifted with the introduction of technology in schools, technology integration has not always been feasible in an Arts Education setting.  The biggest factor that prevented this was the time I got to spend with student groups each week. But this has all changed now that I am a Grade 3 online teacher! Online integration is now my life and the last week has been a whirlwind of learning and considering how to adapt learning and curriculum in an online environment. To say this course, Foundations of Educational Technology, came at a good time would be an understatement.

Instructivism, Constructivism and Connectivism“Instructivism, Constructivism and Connectivism” by ryan2point0 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In the spring during remote learning, I covered a Grade 4/5 class and used tools like Seesaw and Google Classroom.  But this learning was emergency and supplemental, so there was not as much pressure when it came to assessment.  Now the eSchool team is tasked to create engaging lessons that will provide the same educational objectives and outcomes as an in person classroom setting.  My classmate Leigh highlighted the connections between connectivism with social constructivism and the core principles of connectivism from Siemans including:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical that what is currently known.

I am so excited when I think about the potential of eSchool and opportunity we have to create a unique learning experience for students.  Connectivism is the theory that heavily aligns with online learning and I look forward to my new role as an online teacher. Although many people may look at the negative aspects of the COVID pandemic, I think it has forced education to look to the future and embrace the changes needed to facilitate learning online.

Until next time,





What is Edtech?

My personal understanding of educational technology has evolved over the last 20 years from my experiences as a student and now teacher. Very simply, Edtech to me means any technology that is used for educational purposes. This is a very broad statement when we consider the technological changes and advances that have occurred in our lifetime.

tech·nol·o·gy /tekˈnäləjē/

noun: the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.

Educational technology could then mean that the technology serves a purpose to teach, provide instruction or information. This week during our lecture, Dr. Couros shared two definitions of educational technology from The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT):

My own understanding of educational technology aligns more closely with the 2008 definition and is influenced by my personal experience in school.  I started Kindergarten in the mid-1990s, which is around the same time that the constructivist movement in technology started to gain momentum. “Early advocates of constructivism used the term as an umbrella term for a wide range of innovative instructional methods” (Molenda, 2008, p. 15).

In school, I remember thinking of what what we would now consider educational technology as fun and exciting parts of the day.  An example was the use of our school “mini-lab” – a collection of Macintosh Classic computers.  The highlight of our “computer” time was practicing All the Right Type. Then eventually we could type up final copies of any writing assignments.  At this point, technology was used as a substitution tool (based on the SAMR model). 

Some of these early experiences in technology followed the broad principals according to M.P. Driscoll and were highlighted in the “Historical Foundations” chapter by Michael Molenda. These include:

  1. Embed learning in complex, realistic, and relevant environments. 
  2. Provide for social negotiation as an integral part of learning. 
  3. Support multiple perspectives and the use of multiple modes of representation. 
  4. Encourage ownership in learning. 
  5. Nurture self-awareness of the knowledge construction process

The standout principal to me was #4 – Encourage ownership in learning.  By incorporating new technology at school, I developed an interest in exploring technology (especially the computer) at home.  The important part about these experiences is it gave me the confidence to try new things and not be afraid of “breaking” the technology tool (something that can often be a barrier for older generations and using technology).  This carefree and fearless attitude allowed me to discover how technology tools worked and apply my knowledge in different settings. 

Social media has been a huge part of how my understanding and practice of educational technology has been shaped.  Tony Bates describes a variety of different technologies, like blogs, wikis, YouTube videos and other school media sites.  The idea of creating user generated content and sharing/exchanging information is an exciting way to create online communities.  This became extremely important during the Spring 2020 COVID-19 pandemic shutdown as we tried to continue our daily education routines online. 

My classmate Melinda highlighted some very important issues regarding the digital divide and the students who benefit from technology.  This was painfully obvious during the remote learning period.  The access to technology was a benefit for students who had technology and Internet at home during the shutdown.  The new remote learning options were harmful for students who did not have access as they were essentially left out from all the educational opportunities in the spring.  Neil Postman explained these ideas in his article “Five things we need to know about technological change”. While there were many advantages to new technologies during this period, there were corresponding disadvantages (Zoom fatigue, anyone?).

So where does this leave us? Is there a contemporary definition of educational technology?

The TPACK model shows that when the three different areas of education and technology intersect (Technichal, Content and Pedagogical Knowledge), we are able to create a seamless educational experience.  Technology is no longer an add-on or “fun” tool in schools, but rather a part of education every moment of every day.  It is up to educators to support students and create rich learning experiences. I recently discovered the Education Technology Action Group (ETAG) report and the challenge of how we use technology education today.  A major conclusion was that digital technology in education is not optional and can and should bring joy and engagement. I would love to hear your thoughts on this report and how it influences our ideas of educational technology today!

Until next time,